Preacher and protests - what's driving Islam's conservative shift in Indonesia

The radical views of controversial preacher Abdul Somad Batubara and his supporters are the product of two trends - the rise of a generation of social media savvy youth and Saudi-funded religious schooling

Supporters of radical preacher Abdul Somad Batubara holding a protest in front of the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta on May 20, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
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A striking development in Indonesian society in recent years has been the rise of identity politics.

While President Joko Widodo enjoys strong support in the populous abangan (syncretic Muslim) parts of the country - Central Java and East Java, as well as in areas with significant Christian minorities like North Sumatra, North Sulawesi and eastern Indonesia as well as Hindu-dominated Bali - areas dominated by santri (devout Muslims), including West Java, Sumatra and South and Central Sulawesi, continue to be fertile ground for his critics.

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